Probe opprobrium: Scientists hope reagent database will improve drug research

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

Academics launch probe database for biopharma researchers
Academics launch probe database for biopharma researchers
Poor biochemical probes mean some drug discovery research is wasted according to academics behind a website intended to help biopharmaceutical developers choose the best reagents.

The new website​ advises biopharmaceutical industry researchers and academics on the best probes to use when examining a particular protein target, taking factors like specificity and experimental set up into consideration.

The team behind the site use a chemical called LY294002, which targets a protein called PI3 kinase, as an example of a probe that results in wasted research.

They explain in an article Nature Chemical Biology that LY294002 is still sold and used in research despite having been superseded more specific, modern replacements.

 “The availability of these new inhibitors certainly obviated the need for LY294002 as a chemical probe, and it should be discarded as a selective research tool. Yet a search of Google Scholar in 2014–2015 alone for 'LY294002 and PI3 kinase' returned ~1,100 documents.”

Initially, the authors will maintain and update the database. However, in time they want it to grow as a result of input from the research community – which they term as ‘wikification’ – and support from academics and industry.

 “Ideally, the scientific community will reciprocate by adding its feedback and by placing any new data into any of the outstanding chemical biology databases​.”

Source: Nature Chemical Biology

“The promise and peril of chemical probes”

DOI::10.1038/nchembio.1867

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